Long list of Utah elected officials back Mitt Romney

Published: Wednesday, July 6 2011 11:29 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Mitt Romney released a long list of the Utah elected officials backing his second White House bid on Wednesday that includes most of the state's congressional delegation, key executive officeholders and lawmakers.

"These endorsements represent the deep level of support that I have enjoyed over the years in Utah," Romney said in a statement accompanying the 1½-page list.

The former leader of the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City credited the bond he formed "with many Utah residents and officials during my time running the Olympics and continue to appreciate the level of support of so many in the state."

Only Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, the state's freshman senator, and the lone Democrat in the delegation, Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, are not on the list of Romney's Utah congressional supporters.

Lee has not endorsed a presidential candidate yet, his spokeswoman, Emily Bennion, said. But Sen. Orrin Hatch, Rep. Jason Chaffetz and Rep. Rob Bishop, all R-Utah, have backed Romney.

Hatch said Romney "has the proven record to lead our country and understands that middle-class families, small businesses and the private sector are the key to a bright future — not government."

Chaffetz, who announced his support for Romney Tuesday, called him "the right man at this critical time to lead us toward recovery." Bishop cited Romney's "record of job creation that the president lacks."

Also not on the list is Gov. Gary Herbert, who served as lieutenant governor under the other GOP presidential candidate in the 2012 race with ties to Utah, former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.

Lt. Gov. Greg Bell, who is pushing for the state to fund an earlier presidential primary that would benefit Romney's campaign, is a supporter, as is Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.

Herbert has been careful not to endorse either Romney or Huntsman but has pointed out he backed Romney in 2008 and has encouraged him to run again.

Most of Utah's GOP establishment also endorsed Romney then, except for Huntsman, who backed the party's eventual nominee, Arizona Sen. John McCain. Some of McCain's top aides are now working for Huntsman's presidential campaign.

The Republican lawmakers supporting Romney include Senate President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, and the rest of his leadership team. But on the House side, House Majority Leader Brad Dee, R-Ogden, is the only member of the House GOP leadership on the list.

One lawmaker, Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, said his name "was mistakenly listed" by Romney because he is endorsing Huntsman, who "jump-started our state's economy by cutting taxes, reducing waste and passing market-based health care reform."

Utah has been a major source of campaign cash for Romney, who raised more than $5 million here in the 2008 campaign. Romney also won an unprecedented 90 percent of the vote over McCain in Utah's 2008 GOP primary.

Utah Officials Endorsing Mitt Romney:

Senator Orrin Hatch

Congressman Jason Chaffetz

Congressman Rob Bishop

Lieutenant Governor Greg Bell

Attorney General Mark Shurtleff

State Senate President Michael G. Waddoups

State Senate Majority Leader Scott K. Jenkins

State Senate Majority Whip Wayne L. Niederhauser

State Senate Assistant Majority Whip Peter C. Knudson

State Senator J. Stuart Adams

State Senator Curtis S. Bramble

State Senator Allen M. Christensen

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